* This statement was published on 29th November 2022 to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. If you would like to add your signature please do so at this link.
We as TWAIL (Third World approaches to international law) scholars and allies affirm our commitment to Palestinian freedom and our solidarity with Palestinians collectively struggling towards liberation. We, the signatories to this statement, unequivocally support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, including the academic boycott as the most direct and relevant expression of our solidarity.
The global south has a long history of engagement with the ‘Question of Palestine’, understanding it as an anti-imperialist and anti-racist struggle. Palestine has been central to the Third World agenda and inextricable from similar liberation movements across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. While this engagement has not always been unified, at pivotal moments at the United Nations, in the Non-Aligned Movement and in the Tri-Continental conferences, the peoples of the global south have come together to support the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and protested Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, discrimination against Palestinian citizens, violence against Palestinian people, and the denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
We have valued the intellectual and political diversity of the TWAIL community, just as we have valued the TWAIL community’s shared commitment to decolonization, racial justice and the right to self-determination. It is in that context that, for us, support for BDS is grounded in our support for academic freedom and the right to self-determination in historic Palestine. We similarly commit to support and pursue the core aims of the Palestine & Praxis statement, including by actively supporting Palestinian scholarship, as well as pressuring our own academic institutions and organizations to respect the Palestinian call for BDS and to remove any complicity or partnership with military, academic and legal institutions involved in entrenching or whitewashing Israel’s policies.
Israeli academic institutions are implicated in Israel’s worst forms of violence, including weapons technologies and military ethics that have facilitated the killing of great numbers of Palestinians. Israeli universities in 1948 Palestine are inaccessible to Palestinian students and scholars in the 1967 occupied territories because of movement restrictions denying them access to their own archives as well as educational opportunities, while Israeli universities inside the occupied territories are an integral part of settler colonial expansion and the displacement and dispossession of Palestinian communities. Israeli authorities have denied students and scholars the ability to travel abroad for conferences; the Israeli military has systematically attacked students on Palestinian university campuses, and most recently, have instituted a policy that makes international study or work at a Palestinian university contingent on military approval.
BDS is a Palestinian-led movement ‘for freedom, justice and equality’. The academic boycott is a central dimension of BDS and of critical relevance to TWAIL scholars invested in academic freedom for Palestinian students, researchers and faculty. BDS is inspired by the pivotal role that the boycott movement played in third world solidarity with South Africans resisting apartheid. The boycott will not end Israeli apartheid or settler colonialism by itself; however, it interrupts its normalization, including our own complicity with these systems of oppression. BDS is also a way to publicly express support for those struggling against injustice in Palestine – a struggle that is often a lonely and isolating one for Palestinians because collusion between Israeli colonialism, American empire and anti-Palestinian racism has worked to deter open criticism of Israel.
In that light, in response to the clear and simple request from our Palestinian colleagues for an institutional academic boycott of Israel and in line with the guidelines they have set out, we pledge not to engage in any professional engagement with Israeli academic, research, or state institutions until Israel ends its regimes of occupation, colonialism and apartheid over Palestinian lands and people, and respects the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. This does not apply to individual scholars acting in their individual capacity, as is well-known and made clear in the Palestinian guidelines. For us, our support for BDS is an expression of our ethical commitment as TWAIL scholars. We echo the message from Palestine & Praxis that ‘scholarship without action normalizes the status quo and reinforces Israel’s impunity’, and we call on fellow international law scholars across the world to respect the academic boycott and the BDS movement’s goals for freedom, justice and equality.
Brendan Ciarán Browne
Mohsen al Attar
Bana Abu Zuluf
Nicolás M. Perrone
Bill V. Mullen
Fabia Fernandes Carvalho
Syeda Re’em Hussain
Gert Van Hecken
Tarcísio Diniz Magalhães
Jeanne M. Woods
Mohammad Nasar Nasir